State Capitol News
4:15 pm
Thu December 10, 2009

Arizona tribal gaming revenues down, but still strong

Phoenix, AZ – Some new figures today show that while interest in gambling may
be down, it's hardly gone away.

Economist Alan Meister estimates that tribes in Arizona had gross
gaming revenues of about $1.9 billion last year. That's about 6
percent less than the year before. Meister said that drop is not
surprising.

"There's several things going on here. The economy is definitely
playing a big factor in what's going on pretty much in
everything, but definitely in gaming in general but definitely in
Arizona as well specifically."

Mark Brnovich, director of the state Gaming Department, said that
is complicated by low consumer confidence.

"We're one of the top states with folks that are underwater with
with their houses. They were hit hard by what's happened with
real estate and the banking industry. There's a lot less
disposable income. And the disposable income people have they're
holding onto more cautiously."

But there's more to the story than the drop. That $1.9 billion
represents money taken in before tribes paid their operating
expenses. But it is after they paid out winnings which, by
agreement with the state, have to total at least 80 percent of
what is wagered. So that means Arizonans and visitors here bet at
least $9.5 billion last year at tribal casinos -- if not more.